Science fiction or near future?
28% of all new recruits quit within their trial period or even fail to turn up on their first day of work. Moreover, employees who receive poor induction are twice as likely to leave as employees who go through an effective onboarding process.
These figures by Haufe should alarm companies: Faced with the ongoing “War of Talents”, new hires are extremely time consuming and costly. Yet, a well-designed onboarding concept can be integrated directly into the existing learning management system (LMS).
To many LMS managers, some of the options available today sound like science fiction. That’s why we embarked on some onboarding time travel into the near future to experience what onboarding might look like.
The first few weeks are crucial for making new colleagues feel welcome in the organisation and helping them become part of the team, as this is the foundation for long-term company loyalty. This requires both empathy and clear onboarding processes. Even larger organisations with existing learning management systems that would provide an optimal infrastructure for efficient onboarding design are often unaware of the opportunities available.
This is why we are following our fictitious employee Hanna in this article to get a glimpse of her slightly different onboarding experience ...
Hanna is excited. She just signed the contract for her new job. She is leaving the big bank where she had been involved in investment advisory services for several years and completed many professional development courses. While most of these followed the traditional face-to-face format, some were delivered online – and often bored her to death.
She will handle similar tasks in her new job with her new employer and fears that she will have to chew through the same dull content all over again. After all, that’s what happened the last time she changed jobs. She lets out a sigh at the mere thought at yet another bog-standard first aid course. Hanna has been a certified first aider and fire protection assistant for years.
Exactly two weeks before her first day at work, a friendly email lands in Hanna’s inbox, asking her to join her new employer’s in-house learning management system. She is quite unsure what to make of that. Surely, they are not expecting her to work already?
Curiosity gets the better of her – and she is in for a surprise. Instead of the expected work assignments, a chatbot welcomes her who resembles a cross between Wall-E and R2D2. The assistant introduces himself as Robby and gives Hanna a virtual tour of her new office, introduces the other team members with a picture, and shows her where they sit. He also reveals her future email address and the (mobile) devices she can expect to find on her desk on her first day.
He asks how she plans to travel to the office, and whether she prefers public transport, car or changing it up. She chooses “both” and promptly receives an overview of all connections and parking options. Robby also shows her who will be sitting at reception on her first day and issue her access card.
The little chatbot then explains which communication tools are used in the company and which other tools Hanna will be working with. She is given the option to take a closer look at these tools before starting her job, but is informed that her manager will personally show her how to use them all in her first week.
Robby ends his tour with the words: “We are looking forward to welcoming you soon. If you have any further questions, simply launch a chat and I will be happy to help you!”
The day of truth has arrived: The first day gets underway and Hanna is stumped. Armed with a smartphone, she is asked to team up with another colleague to complete some type of digital scavenger hunt through the company. When she passes certain offices, she receives a notification along the lines of: “Say Hi to Peter! Peter is responsible for your business trips and finances.”
In her new office, she meets the colleagues Robby had already introduced her to virtually, and she is asked to log into the learning management system from her workstation and complete a test. Instead of a typical mind-numbing multiple choice test, Robby greets her, guides her through the different departments and processes, and invites her to an interactive quiz. Even the training sessions on data protection, cyber security and first aid flow nicely.
When she states her qualifications as a first aider and fire protection assistant, she is asked to upload her certificate and given leave to skip all subsequent questions in this field. Robby also enquires directly whether he may add her as a first aider in the system. Hanna agrees.
The system also adapts to her current knowledge with the subsequent questions, and tailors them accordingly. When the program notices that Hanna already possesses sound knowledge in a field, it either asks more difficult questions or skips certain sections. At the end of the training session, Robby leaves her with the words: “Thank you for your support! I see you are already a real pro. I will adjust your onboarding plan and training accordingly.”
Indeed, Hanna learns only new contents in subsequent training sessions. She is asked to self-assess and is provided with a tailored concept aligned with her personal development goals. She is free to schedule her learning time at her leisure. Her superiors only set a deadline for completing all training units.
Even learning method and approach are tailored to her personal requirements. All training contents is available in various formats, and Hanna can select her preferred system. This involves no additional tests: The algorithm identifies the methods most suitable for Hanna based on the training units she has already completed, and suggests training units using a similar approach. If she doesn’t like them, she is free to switch to other formats at any time.
A few weeks into her job, Hanna suddenly stumbles on a question. She enters it on the intranet and is immediately referred to a matching training session. In addition to the specific training offer, she is also shown which colleagues could assist her with her query. Meanwhile, Hanna is shown as an expert for questions in her specialty areas.
Intuitive tools also let her create her own training sessions in minimal time. Templates are provided in the system, and she can choose between voice-to-text, typed entries, preparing presentations or creating diagrams. Content design is automated and the output is provided in a range of formats. Training is delivered in “learning nuggets”, that is smaller learning units no longer than three minutes each.
By now, Hanna’s profile is after three months filled with a wealth of information. She had already discussed the direction she would like her development to take with her manager in the initial weeks, and they identified the required competences and skills and how she can acquire them. In the next half year, she would like to further improve her English. She is also considering assuming technical management tasks.
To this end, she submitted her self-assessment which must be confirmed by her line manager. A skill profile based on this assessment was set up in the system, which shows target and actual scores. Every time Hanna creates or completes another training unit, the target score increases, and she can see which courses would help her achieve further improvements.
Hanna’s onboarding is complete after six months. She feels like she has arrived and is in good hands. Her line manager now sets up a meeting together with the head of her department. Hanna is slightly uneasy when she arrives for the meeting and wonders whether she had misjudged her achievement after all.
Instead, she finds out that a colleague in another department had unexpectedly handed in his notice. The skills match for the position showed that Hanna already met 80% of the job requirements. While she still needed training in employee management, her superiors are confident that she will master this quickly. Hanna accepts and is promoted after only half a year with the company.
...and in reality?
So far, so good. Which parts of this story are wishful thinking? Which aspects ring true in real life? No doubt, almost every scenario described is possible today - or will be very soon. Nevertheless, companies are only utilising a fraction of these options and opportunities. Creating a dedicated skills profile for each job, developing learning paths and linking these with competences or integrating learning on demand takes time. Yet, investing in these topics – also in combination with skills-based job profiles – and integrating them into the onboarding process pays off, especially when facing skills shortages.
We therefore hope that Hanna’s story leaves the realm of science fiction and becomes reality soon.
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I have been working in the Marketing & Communication Team at imc since March 2019.
Communication, creative content and social media are my passion. "KISS - Keep it short and simple" is my credo.
To explain complex content in an understandable way and thus make the topic of e-Learning accessible to everyone is an exciting challenge every day.
Privately I love to read, play poker and travel a lot.
I am always happy to receive feedback or suggestions.